Offshore Wind Energy Collaboration

The UK and US Combine Wind Power Forces

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted April 24, 2012

The United States and Britain have recently announced the two nations will help fund work on offshore wind generation technologies that can work in waters as deep as 500 feet.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu and the UK’s Edward Davey and their respective departments are planning on collaborating on developing floating platforms for deepwater turbines.

Right now, the deepest for seabed-fixed turbines is around 200 feet. The floating platforms that are being researched are similar to the kind the oil industry relies on for drilling in the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. According to Davey, turbines on these floating systems could be towed back to shore for maintenance, saving both time and money.

While the UK and Germany lead the pack with 35.5 GW of offshore wind projects to be completed by 2020, the US is lagging behind. That being said, these floating projects could be the answer to the aesthetic problems some Americans have with turbines, such as in the case of the Cape Wind facility off Nantucket, Massachusetts.

However, 67% of Britons are onboard with wind power, according to a recent poll conducted by Ipsos Mori Ltd. This makes a difference as the UK has nearly a third of the potential sites for offshore wind projects in Europe. Should these floating platforms come into play, the UK’s energy outlook will be in an even better position.

So far, the UK has offered $40.2 million to contractors who can demonstrate how best to develop the floating platforms with a winner of the funds picked next year. The US has come forward with $180 million for contractors who can demonstrate four different projects including the floating platform.